The Neo Gospel Soul of Liz Vice
  • MONDAY, JULY 27, 2015

  • Posted by: Don Saas

My pick for the most criminally underloved record of 2012 -- you almost never hear it brought up as one of the great records of that year and I think it's probably one of the great records of the decade -- was Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again (listen to "Tell Me a Tale" right now). Kiwanuka was Otis Redding meets Van Morrison reborn, and that scratches all of my classic soul pleasure centers as intensely as they can. And with her new single, "Empty Me Out," Liz Vice has marked herself as another heir to that 60s soul throne.

Think Tina Turner but if Ike had taken a minimalist approach to production but also suddenly really got into gospel music, and now you have an inkling of the retro magic that Liz Vice produces. For such a young talent, she can already count one of the Avett brothers as a fan who discovered her music during a tough period in his life. Check out the understated beauty of Liz Vice's "Empty Me Out" below and also dig our Q&A with this rising talent.

Liz's debut record, There's a Light, is due out on September 25th



Is part of your motivation as an artist to make gospel accessible to a broader audience?

Liz Vice: I guess that's the point of the gospel - it's for a broader audience. I had no idea how "There's A Light" would be received. In my mind, this project was a one-off thing where we would create a CD to give away for free. I didn't really think about who would accept it or not, so, I am surprised when people ask me to sing my songs. Believers in this message and non-believers alike constantly tell me that I need to keep making music like this. I think everyone could use a little hope. That's what the Gospel provides, hope. Even though evil seems to be so pervasive at times, there is so much good and so much for which to be thankful.

When did you first start singing?

That's hard to say. A 9 year old child asked me the same thing and I didn't really have an answer because I think all kids sing. I am sure my mom has cassette tapes of me making up songs under the dinner table. I remember spending HOURS in the bathroom, lip-synching to my favorite songs and standing against my door in my room so that no one could walk in on me singing songs from the radio. I would also spend hours in the basement performing to my favorite Disney soundtracks.

Do you find that as you reach a larger audience there is a shift of focus from your message to your musical style, or are they unrelated?

Not really - I think they're unrelated. If I sing with a folk band, I'll sing about the message in the same style as it was written. If I sing with a rock band, same deal. The message of the album stays the same whether it is dripping with soul, a 5-piece, or just me with keys.

I hear a little Aretha Franklin, Adele, and Amy Winehouse when I listen to your music. Who are some of your inspirations?

REALLY?! Well, shoo, that's an honor. I highly respect the talent of these women. My mom is also an inspiration. There are certain songs on the album where I hear my mom's voice. It's kind of crazy because we sound so much alike. She pursued music when she lived in LA, but when we moved to Portland, she was raising 5 kids on her own and had to put her gifts to the side to make sure she could provide the best for us. I haven't heard her sing in a while, except when I visit the house and we are looking in the mirror getting ready, singing along to the radio.

Most of the time, I am inspired by the story of the songs; I allow myself to enter into that atmosphere and sing how I would if I lived in that particular world.

I grew up listening to Top 40 radio, I listened to EVERYTHING. These days, I find myself listening to the tunes of Ibeyi, Laura Mvula, Lianne La Havas, Jarryd James, Jon Bellion, Ben L'Oncle Soul. I also have a lot of friends who play music and I listen to them all the time.

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